South Africa Malaria advisory
As we approach the summer months in South Africa, the risk of malaria increases. Although the number of cases is currently lower than previous years, as the summer rains start and temperatures rise, the population of mosquitoes carrying malaria is likely to increase in the malaria transmission areas, resulting in an increase in malaria cases. The usual risk areas in South Africa (as shown in the malaria risk map), are the low lying Northern and Eastern areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. Outside South Africa, the risk of malaria in Mozambique is normally very high.
People who are planning to travel are urged to take adequate measures to protect themselves from malaria. All people in malaria risk areas should reduce contact with mosquitoes by limiting outdoor activity after dark, covering up bare skin (not forgetting feet and ankles), using mosquito repellents containing DEET, ensuring mosquito screens on windows are closed, and using bednets, fans or air-conditioning, if available. In the higher risk areas, consider antimalarial prophylaxis, namely doxycycline or atovaquone-proguanil, available without prescription from pharmacies and travel clinics. Public sector travel clinics will also supply prophylaxis to travellers. Pregnant women should avoid travelling to transmission areas, as there is presently no suitable prophylaxis available in South Africa.
It is important to understand that while these precautions will substantially reduce the chance of acquiring malaria, the risk is never completely abolished. All travellers returning from malaria transmission areas, including very low risk ones, should report ’flu-like illness (headache, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle and joint pain) that occurs up to four weeks after first possible exposure, in case it is malaria. Children with malaria may have very non-specific signs (fever, loss of appetite, vomiting). Healthcare workers seeing ill patients must remember to ask about travel to malaria transmission areas. Do not forget that sometimes, infected mosquitoes may accidentally be transported in vehicles or luggage and transmit malaria in non-endemic areas!
The malaria risk map and further information on prevention is available on this website.
Updated: 05 October 2020